How to give your agents superpower (no black magic, just science)

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash
Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Are your agents complaining that they don’t have enough support? How are your competitors enabling their agents to succeed? 

In insurance, call centers are the frontlines. Agents help customers every step of the way. The ones who receive great service remain customers, the ones who do not are more likely to churn. 

On-the-call assistance 

Joe has been working the phones for a year now. She felt like she’s been through the motions. This made her feel safe, secure and comfortable in her WFH contact center role. Today, as she picked up the next call, the customer was angry, demanding to know why his claim had only been partially covered. As Joe could not find the reason in the system, the customer grew more and more belligerent and began insulting Joe.

Jafar Adibi, head of AI at Talkdesk, believes that agents lacking data access at the right place and time is one of the greatest challenges a call center can face, which is especially true with all the pandemic disruptions. 

One way to ensure that your agents have all the support they need is to integrate AI into their work processes. AI can be directly integrated with call center service agent workstations, providing them with on-the-call insights into the data being captured, the potential outcome of a conversation, and more. The result is a reduced handle time, a higher conversion/resolution rate, and happier agents with their performance enhanced by artificial intelligence.

Insureon managed to implement a uniform sales approach across its entire contact center staff using an AI solution. 

Based on their prior experience, Insureon realized that customers often would not get to the heart of the problem since they often did not know what exactly to ask in a transaction. The company was looking for a system that would let their agents steer the conversation and get to the issues that the customers want to solve.

The goal was to transcribe conversations in real time, feed transcriptions to AI to analyze and segment the data and to provide actionable takeaways to agents on call.

To achieve this they needed:

  • Real-time speech-to-text 

  • A machine learning system for data analysis

  • A phone system to work seamlessly with both solutions

Insureon integrated a sales enablement AI engine with its CRM and RingCentral telephony (already in use) and Insureon’s in-house CRM. 

Using an AI platform for call analytics took Insureon’s sales performance to the next level: the company has seen average call-handle times drop by 45% and experienced a 52% lift in the lead-to-customer conversion rate.

Humana, a health insurance agency, used real-time voice analytics to identify customer emotion and coach service reps. 

The digital coach takes in signs of consumer frustration, such as a consumer’s elevated tone or the representative and the client talking over one another. The AI then provides the agent with instant feedback on how to tailor their strategy to the customer’s needs during the phone call.

Humana was able to achieve a 28% improvement in net promoter scores and a 63% increase in employee engagement on-the-call.

Agent training

It is often the case that operators face challenges right from the start. The two ways to accelerate and enhance the process is to use AI-powered tools or the so-called digital buddies.

This article is part of a detailed report on how insurance companies are improving their call centers with voice AI. Download the full report here!

Training time is determined by the quality of tools for agent coaching and development. This is why it might be useful to engage your agents in training with the help of AI-based call center training tools such as gamification (motivating an agent to earn achievements and rewards in a game-like experience), self-monitoring and visual assistance.

Another strategy is to employ Virtual Employee Assistants (VEAs) – or digital buddies – to provide agents with on-demand advice, facilitate internal communication and help with other administrative tasks. In early 2019, Gartner predicted that by 2021, 25% of digital workers will be using a VEA every day, compared with less than 2% in 2019.

Allstate is one of the biggest insurance companies that uses a VEA to enhance agent training.

Experts see quick onboarding as vital for insurance company call centers. Onboarding has historically been a lengthy process due to the number of regulations insurance call center operators must be aware of. 

To prepare its call centers for all kinds of customer needs, Allstate has integrated an agent-facing AI-powered virtual assistant AMELIA to get new hires up to speed quickly. 

Their training can take 8 to 12 weeks, but Amelia helps cut down training time and let agents focus on more common cases (they can always count on Amelia in rarer scenarios). Agents usually need 20 to 24 weeks to achieve proficiency, but with Amelia’s guidance, they’re able to deliver proficient-level service four weeks sooner.

This tool also helps representatives who don’t normally deal with customer phone calls refresh their training. This way, if there is a surge in demand, they can support the claims handling team and pitch in on first calls before passing the client to a claims specialist. 

Improving service reps performance

Insurance companies might underestimate the importance of evaluating and reassessing call center performance and thus miss an opportunity to create a better contact strategy, bring clarity into an operator’s workflow and reduce their stress levels. 

Some scholars have attempted to enhance call center performance with the help of data science.

Researchers aim to predict the quality of service in call centers by applying data mining techniques to the combined performance evaluation results collected from five call centers of a large nationwide insurance company.

The study output suggests that call center management teams will achieve statistically better performance by shifting focus from reducing average call duration to training and coaching low performing individuals and optimizing underperforming products. 

Implementing AI and data science into your call center workflow yield a number of benefits: agent assistance, a better contact strategy and cost reduction among them.

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